The long battle over ObamaCare’s subsidies that culminated at the Supreme Court last week has overshadowed a consequential shift in health insurance: toward high-deductible plans that will help put market forces back into medicine.
Premium growth in the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Marketplaces has been an area of significant interest, as this is one of the most tangible and measurable indicators of whether the ACA is working to keep health insurance affordable. The ACA’s rate review provision requires premium increases over ten percent to be made public. As a number of individual market insurers are requesting 2016 increases well above 10 percent, concern has been raised over the affordability of premiums in the coming year. However, these increases are not necessarily representative of the range of products from which consumers will be able to choose, and similar data is not widely available for the plans with moderate increases or decreases.
State regulators typically use their power to review health insurance premiums to limit rate hikes. But in Oregon, officials are ordering insurers to raise premiums — in many cases by double digits.
The regulators pointed out that insurers spent over $100 million more than they took in last year. Any more money-losing years like that, and some carriers would surely go bankrupt.
Emergency room usage has spiked sharply in recent years. That’s the depressing finding from a new survey by the American College of Emergency Physicians – and it’s putting those who need emergency care at grave risk. The survey concluded that three in four emergency room doctors have experienced a surge of new patients since the Affordable Care Act became law.
That isn’t a coincidence.
The Supreme Court will soon decide King v. Burwell, the case that will determine whether tax credits being paid in at least 34 states without their own exchanges are legal. If the Supreme Court makes the administration follow the letter of the law, billions of dollars of federal tax credits will continue to flow to 16 states, but not the rest. This will result in a political crisis giving Congress and President Obama the opportunity to fix the worst aspects of Obamacare.
In early June, the federal government released data on the premium increases that health insurers in 45 states and the District of Columbia are requesting for 2016. The numbers were eye-popping, with many requests exceeding 20 percent and a few even exceeding 50 percent. They were definitely “death spiral” inducing premium hikes. Yet, some pundits on the Left dismissed them as no big deal.
ObamaCare enrollees are struggling to pay their premiums and facing steep price hikes ahead, but that’s only half of the battle they’re facing under the president’s health care law. According to two recent surveys, those with ObamaCare plans – and the subsidies that help pay for them – are still left with sky-high deductibles and out-of-pocket costs that force them to put off the care they need. Here’s more:
– See more at: http://www.speaker.gov/general/even-obamacare-americans-find-health-insurance-too-expensive#sthash.c0zylX7H.dpuf
The U.S. Census Bureau has published new estimates of health spending based on their somewhat obscure but important Quarterly Services Survey. Analysis of the survey data shows that health spending was 7.3% higher in the first quarter of 2015 than in the first quarter of last year. Hospital spending increased 9.2%.
Many consumers with health coverage through the Affordable Care Act are facing unexpected medical bills that in some cases greatly exceed the law’s caps on out-of-pocket expenses.
The law’s limits don’t apply to charges from out-of-network providers, and many insurance plans sold on ACA exchanges have limited networks—amplifying the risk of surprise bills.
By May 15, insurers had to file 2016 premiums with their state regulatory agencies and provide an explanation for rate increases exceeding 10 percent. On June 1, the Department of Health and Human Services released this information for 41 states plus the District of Columbia. Based on these filings, it appears that premiums for many Obamacare plans, particularly those with large market share, will rise substantially next year. In these states insurers requested double-digit increases for 676 individual and small group plans. These are on top of individual-market premium increases averaging 49 percent between 2013 and 2014.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, these states include 7.9 million total exchange enrollees – nearly four out of every five people enrolled in exchange plans across the country. The double-digit rate increases HHS reported affect more than six million people in these states. These increases apply for Obamacare plans sold on exchanges as well as Obamacare plans sold off the exchanges. The weighted average premium increase for these six million people is 21 percent. Because the HHS list does not include insurers requesting double-digit rate hikes in large states such as California and New York, final numbers will be even higher.
Obamacare plans have disproportionately attracted older and sicker people. In their rate request filings, insurance companies generally said that claims have been far above what they expected. Moreover, Obamacare contained a large subsidy for insurers through the law’s reinsurance program – equaling $20 billion over three years. The reinsurance program is rapidly phasing out. The combination of these factors means premiums may continue to spiral upward as healthier people choose not to buy the mandate-laden, high-deductible, and expensive coverage.